JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Rumors were swirling for weeks that Deion Sanders was looking to leave as Jackson State’s head football coach. He confirmed reports Saturday after the team won the SWAC Championship. Monday, there are heavy hearts in Tiger World where fans though not surprised, are disappointed.
Overcast skies loomed over the Jackson State campus, reflecting the mood of many after football coach Deion Sanders announced his plans to leave the program for the University of Colorado. Less than a mile from the campus on Lynch Street at Boston Fish Supreme, there was a mixed reaction from fans. Some were upset Sanders didn’t fulfill his contract at JSU. Supporters of rival SWAC teams are happy to see him leave.
“We really can’t be mad,” said JSU fan William Hinkle.
The 25-year-old said he’s not surprised Sanders moved on after the struggles he and the team endured to have back-to-back championships.
“He came. He did what he was supposed to do. He got them ready for him to leave before he left, giving them a better mindset,” said Hinkle. “That’s all we needed anyway. We can’t be mad at that man because he wanted to take more money to better himself.”
“I think Jackson State went from nothing to something, and they became big,” said Jackson resident Stephen Radovics. “And it’s big enthusiasm for the whole city being Jackson, Mississippi, and that he did really good for the team and for the city.”
Manifique Mbombo, a junior majoring in Science Biology, is among those disappointed Sanders is leaving.
“He said all this about HBCU, and when the money came, he went to a PWI. That’s really not fair,” said Mbombo. “But at the same time, a man’s gonna do what he got to do. I understand that part.”
“I kinda feel like he should have never left,” said JSU fan Devontavous Nelson. “He kinda made some improvements, the football team, and stuff. “They started winning games and all that right there. They started going up in the air. He kinda made Jackson on the map.”
Sanders is expected to coach the SWAC Champion Tigers a final time during the Celebration Bowl against MEAC Champions, the North Carolina Central Eagles, in Atlanta on December 17.
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